A registered psychologist and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK, Dr Elliroma Gardiner is one of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing’s (WOW) newest members. We spent five minutes with Elliroma to learn a little more about her research….
In what area/s do your current research interests lie?
I am interested in learning about the role of personality in the workplace with respect to how personality directly influences behavioural choices (e.g. unethical behaviour), how it interacts with situational variables (such as rewards and punishments) to impact behaviour (e.g. risk-taking), and how workplaces can in-turn influence personality.
Are there emerging or ongoing trends in your field/s of research?
There are two emerging trends in the area of personality psychology. The first is the use of physiological measures as proxy indicators of an underlying personality. For instance, researchers are now looking at EEG (electroencephalogram)and heart rate variability readings as indicators of self-regulation. A second trend is concerned with investigating the stability of personality over time. Admittedly, this has always been an interest for personality psychologists, but we now have several longitudinal panel data sets with personality measures that allow us to investigate this question further.
Have there been major developments in the field/s or key findings that have directed the trajectory of the research?
Both of these emerging trends (using biological measures and looking at the reciprocal nature of personality) have influenced my research. For instance, next year some colleagues and I are looking to collect heart rate variability readings to see whether negative feedback impacts the ability of employees to self-regulate their emotions. I am also currently working on a paper investigating the reciprocal relationship between core self-evaluations and wages in the UK.
Are there challenges in your field in bridging the gap between research, practice and policy?
As an organisational psychologist it is important that my research informs my practice and vice versa. For instance, one of my past roles required me to administer psychological tests of personality, intelligence and motivation to assess the suitability of prospective job candidates for a large financial institution.
In this role, I realised that although these tests were really good for identifying those individuals who fit a specific profile, they weren’t very useful for those who were unconventional or different. Knowing that some of the world’s most successful business people are also the least traditional (e.g. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson), working with Professor Chris Jackson (UNSW), we developed a measure to identify these workplace mavericks – that is, individuals who are independent thinkers, risk-takers, creative, and goal-focused. For the last few years I have been conducting research with colleagues and dissertation students to better understand what predicts, promotes and influences maverick behaviour in the workplace.